Shape Up the Shaq Way

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Do you think that enough people realize how much of a problem childhood obesity is?
No, I don't -- especially when you talk about the adults who guide our children and their habits. Politicians, parents and school boards can make a lot of decisions to turn this epidemic around if they gave more attention to it.

What sets Shaq's Family Challenge apart from the other programs out there?
I'm not sure. That really is for other people to decide. We just tried to do a show that adequately showed a serious problem and offered practical ways to solve it. We didn't want to show a competition as much as we wanted to show the human spirit.

How do you envision yourself in the fight against childhood obesity?
I'm just one guy. Hopefully, the show helped get the message out, but there isn't much that I can do alone when you look at how serious and widespread the condition is. When you read that this is the first generation to have a life span shorter than its parents, it puts into perspective that we need all hands on deck.

What type of results have you seen from participants so far?
The kids were inspiring. The weight loss ranged from over 70 pounds to a little under 30 pounds, but the most interesting thing to see was the change in the personalities. Confidence and self-esteem went up, and for one group there was a noticeable improvement in academic performance as well. Basically, kids were allowed to be kids - outgoing and following their dreams.

How would you describe the online component for the show?
It's just a way to keep the message out there and to facilitate families being proactive about their health. The more that we can provide the tools for success, the fewer reasons we'll have for people not achieving it.